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Oklahoma’s broken system is hurting our workforce

ProsperOK wants Oklahoma's economy to grow by enacting better state policy. This year, our work focuses on workforce and economic initiatives that are critical to create a better future for all Oklahomans.

How broken is it?


Spent on state prisons in fiscal year 2022


People unable to thrive in the workforce right now because of interactions with the justice system

1 in 6

Kids in Oklahoma have incarcerated parents

How did this happen?

A fundamentally flawed system pushed to its breaking point.

How can you help?

Your state lawmakers listen!  Even a handful of calls can make a difference. We need your help at critical moments throughout the year, letting lawmakers know that you want a better way. Sign up for email or text updates on how to speak up — and what to say.

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The Clean Slate Initiative

More than 100,000 Oklahomans could go back to school or get a better job or home right now, if their expungement paperwork was automatically processed.

Criminal records are eligible to be cleared after punishments are served and enough time has passed. Nearly 20 states have some form of automatic process, but not Oklahoma. This means that people who cannot pay a lawyer to file paperwork and handle their case, can’t clear their (already legally clean) record.

Right now, Oklahoma can build the technology to automatically process this paperwork at no cost to taxpayers through federal funding.

The unemployment rate for justice involved Oklahomans is 5x the national average.

80% of Oklahomans who are eligible for expungement cannot afford legal services.

A graphic showing a man with his head in his hands looking stressed and desperate. Next to him is a hand holding up cash. Behind them is a map of Oklahoma.

Learn more about the national Clean Slate Initiative

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A proven solution for families and Oklahoma business

Besides the impact of not being able to find work, financing, or housing on individual Oklahomans and families, the lack of a "Clean Slate" system is hurting our workforce and, therefore, Oklahoma businesses.

The Clean Slate Initiative would automate and streamline the expungement process by computerizing it at no cost to the Oklahoman taxpayer, thanks to The American Rescue Plan pandemic relief fund.

We have confidence in this solution because we’re not the first to do it.

1.2 million

people in Pennsylvania have benefited from Clean Slate and 40 million records have been sealed in Pennsylvania since 2019.


estimated people would benefit from Michigan's Clean Slate group implementation.


estimated historical criminal records are automatically cleared by Utah’s Clean Slate law. It is projected to effect hundreds of thousands of criminal records into the future.

The Clean Slate Initiative is not...

A stack of books with a gavel on top, with an 'X' behind it.

“Harmful to public safety”

Lower level offenses are the only offenses potentially eligible for Clean Slate and expungement.

A pair of handcuffs with an 'X' behind it.

“Soft on crime”

Anyone who is eligible for expungement has served their sentence and maintained a clean record. Oklahomans who are eligible for Clean Slate have already paid their debt to society.

A path to reducing poverty and crime

Giving the over 100,000 Oklahomans who are eligible for expungement a better chance at educational and work opportunities will impact our communities and economy.

A little boy looks at the camera while a couple, his parents, are in the background talking to each other.

With better access to education, jobs, and housing, rural families and urban communities of color can begin to lift their families out of generational poverty.

Employers will be able to access a larger market of employees for in-demand jobs like service, labor, and manufacturing.

A man in a construction vest is in a warehouse or large storage facility looks down at his clipboard.
A man wearing a hard hat and driving heavy machinery smiles.

With better options for the future, those with expunged records are less likely to return to crime.

The roadmap for Clean Slate


Found prominent Republican champion in the House to author and introduce Clean Slate legislation (Rep. Nicole Miller)

Significant bipartisan support. (Right on Crime, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oklahoma Policy Institute and ProsperOK)

Written endorsement of support from prominent national Conservatives

Code for America and The Clean Slate Initiative officially adopt Oklahoma as a 2022 campaign state


Prominent Senate Republican Adam Pugh signed on as primary Senate bill author.

Introduce Clean Slate legislation in the Oklahoma House of Representatives

Introduce Clean Slate legislation in the Oklahoma State Senate

Gov. Stitt signs Clean Slate bill

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Fines & Fees Reform

Oklahoma’s courts are largely funded by fines and fees levied against the poorest Oklahomans.

That means courts and police often won’t get paid unless they collect fines and fees from citizens. There’s no security for these systems. To meet increasing budget needs, courts have only increased their reliance on fines and fees.

This means Oklahomans are getting fined more and more often, making it harder to pay up and move on. And, police are spending more time collecting fines and fees drawing their attention from more serious and violent crimes.

The current structure hurts our courts, police, and citizens. Fines & Fees Reform seeks to fund courts and police through the state budget — like any other core function of state government.

A graphic showing a calculator and a graph line spiking upwards.

Fines and fees have increased nearly 30% since 2007.

Studies show that in some counties for every $1 that is collected in fines and fees, $1.18 of taxpayer money is spent to collect it.

An old-fashioned scale with cash filling one end. The shape of a piggy-bank sits behind it.
A stack of paperwork and dollar bill graphics beside it.

70% of these fines and fees are never paid, resulting in compounding debt

Any other business would have ditched this model years ago

Around 94% of the court system’s funding comes from fines and fees, which varies year to year based on how many fines & fees are assessed and what is actually collected.

This means that Oklahoma courts and  law enforcement start each year with only a rough guess on what they can expect for an operating budget. If the courts or police have a special project or need more resources, they're forced to find a way to extract more fines and fees from low-income Oklahomans who happen to find themselves in the court system.

Because police enforce arrest warrants when defendants can’t afford to pay courts what they owe, police are forced to spend more time operating as collections officers and less time addressing actual public safety threats.

More people jailed

for failing to pay their debts, means more broken Oklahoma families and more burden on the Oklahoma taxpayer


which have been proven to reduce crime like drug courts are habitually underfunded in Oklahoma because of this broken funding model.

Judges, public defenders, and law enforcement

often still don’t have the necessary resources

The solution is simple: Include courts and police in the state budget

We can clearly see the issues with this funding model, and the solution proposed by Fines & Fees Reform is simple — allocate funding from the Oklahoma state budget to support our court systems and law enforcement . This is how almost all of our other state agencies and departments exist.

The money is there. Oklahoma's reported record revenue in 2021, and the fiscal year budget will appropriate more than $10 billion dollars.

Oklahoma’s courts are funded in the same way that Netflix is funded - by a user fee. Police are forced to arrest people who can’t afford these user fees, and Oklahoma maintains one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. That trend won’t correct until we fix this funding model.

A close-up of a $20 bill.

Fines & Fees Reform is not…

A pair of handcuffs with an 'X' behind it.

“Soft on crime”

Fines & fees may still exist; they just shouldn’t become inflated due to the budgetary needs. If law enforcement and courts spent less time collecting unpaid fines and fees, police would have more time to focus on fighting actual threats to public safety.

A police vehicle with an 'X' behind it.

“Defunding the police”

In fact, it’s actually suggesting the opposite — These reforms require proper funding  of courts and law enforcement through the state budget, not through these taxes on some of our most vulnerable citizens.

A path to reducing poverty and crime

Making fines & fees consistent and appropriate to the offense will impact our communities by stopping cycles of debt and crime.

Fines & fees of lesser amounts that can actually be paid in a timely manner will mean that Oklahoman’s and families don’t spend decades working down accumulating debt.
Reducing court fines and fees would mean fewer Oklahomans arrested.
If police aren't forced to act as debt collectors for courts they will be more able to.

The roadmap for Fines & Fees Reform


Found prominent Republican champions in both chambers to author and introduce fines and fees legislation (Sen. Daniels, Rep. Talley, Rep. Hilbert, Sen. Thompson, Sen. Garvin, and Rep. Williams)

Gained broad bipartisan support for fines and fees reform. (Right on Crime, Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, Oklahoma Policy, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, Prison Fellowship Ministries and Americans For Prosperity)


Present reform options and arguments at two House interim studies on fines and fees


Introduce multiple fines and fees reforms by several Conservative authors in both legislative chambers

Advance bills through committees and Floor votes

Gov. Stitt signs reforms into law

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